Comic Book Review: ‘Dept. H’ and ‘Mata Hari’

‘Mata Hari’ No. 1

Writer Emma Beeby; Artist Ariela Kristantina
Review by Krystal Moore, The Great Escape Louisville

Being only slightly familiar with the subject of this book, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if not for the cover art. That doesn’t always mean the book inside is good, but this time it paid off.

Written by Emma Beeby, “Mata Hari” is the true story of the infamous, possible double agent of World War I, Mata Hari. Beeby spins a gorgeous tale that moves forward and backward in time to give the reader a complete character than the one-dimensional one I read about in my high school history class.

Since you may not have had that chapter in your schooling, I won’t give away the ending, but I’m looking forward to the five issues of this book on this iconic and mysterious woman’s life story.

The art is by Ariela Kristantina, who borrows elements from the art nouveau movement, beautifully capturing the time and feel of the turn of the century. Colorist Pat Masioni uses subtle, yet rich, colors so the book has an old feel to the pages.

The book is for mature readers, but I can’t imagine children being interested anyway — give this one a try if you’d like to leave behind superheroes and the supernatural for a bit.


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‘Dept. H: Pressure’ Vol. 1

Writer/Artist Matt Kindt
Review by Meredith Harris, The Great Escape Louisville

Who killed the smartest man on Earth?

This murder mystery is anything but average. Matt Kindt’s “Dept. H” takes us to a crime scene miles and miles under the ocean in a deep sea research station.

The director of the research facility is killed and his daughter, Mia, is sent to investigate. Being miles beneath the ocean, the suspect pool is limited, but the dangers certainly aren’t. As this is Vol. 1 of the series, “Pressure” is mostly establishing characters and setting the mood, but Kindt does an excellent job with pacing.

Kindt pulls double duty in this series, not just handling the writing but the art as well. The book is beautiful, his stylized work lending itself very well to the ocean setting. In my opinion, a fantastical book about the ocean doesn’t work as well with boring, house-style art, so Kindt’s work is perfect. His wife, watercolor artist Sharlene Kindt, does the colors and it’s no surprise that they work flawlessly together.

“Dept. H” feels like the film “The Thing” if it had taken place in the ocean. Full of paranoia and claustrophobia, with “Pressure” only containing the first six issues of a 24 issue series (No. 24 is scheduled to be out at the end of March), there is still plenty of time for more twists to come.

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